Much Ado About Rumors

With rumors of new upgrades to Canon full-frame cameras repeatedly flooding in like a tsunami, I thought it best to put together a wishlist of specs that I'd like to see.

Before I jump into those numbers , here is what I consider the target market and purpose of each of the "current" offerings. 
EOS 6D                - Advanced:      Casual/Travel/Landscape
EOS 5D Mark-III  - Professional:  General Purpose Stills + HD-Video
EOS 1Ds Mark-III - Professional:  Studio/Portrait/Landscape
EOS 1D-C             - Professional:  Do-It-All Stills + 4K-Video

Anyway,without any further adieu, here is my wishlist for the coming generation:

6D Mark-II - Casual/Landscape/Travel

High Resolution DPAF CMOS sensor
Maximum Resolution: 39.4 Megapixels (7692 x 5124)
Native ISO range:        64-25,600 
Expanded ISO range: 32-102,400
3.5fps (100,000 actuations)
41pt AF (all cross-type)
Centre AF-point is high precision dual-cross-type with f/2.8 lenses
Memory Card: SD-U3/U1 compatible
Articulating touch LCD
Wifi 802.11ac
GPS + Compass
2560x1440 @24/25/30p
1920x1080 @24/25/30/50/60p
1280x720 @24/25/30/50/60/100/120p

5D-IV - Wedding/Events/Sports/Wildlife/HD-Video

DPAF BSI-CMOS sensor
20.2 Megapixels (5502 x 3668)
Native ISO range: 64-51,200 
Expanded ISO range: 32-204,800
10fps (200,000 actuations)
71pt AF (all cross-type)
15pt active with max aperture of f/8
Dual SD card slots (U3/U1 compatible)
GPS + Compass
2560x1440 @24/25/30/50/60p
1920x1080 @24/25/30/50/60p
1280x720 @24/25/30/50/60/100/120p
5120x2160 @24p (external recorder)
Wifi module included in battery grip

5Ds - Studio/Portrait

Tri-layer Sensor (16bit/channel)
64.3 Megasensels (5670 x 3780 x 3 layers) 
3fps
ISO 64-2000 (expanded 32-8000)
Electronic global shutter
Dual SD card slots (U3 compatible)
35pt AF (all cross-type)
Wifi 802.11ac
Built-in Speedlite Transmitter

1D-C Mark-II - Wedding/Events/Sports/Wildlife/4K-Video

High Resolution DPAF CMOS sensor
39.4 Megapixels (7692 x 5124)
12fps
16fps (with Mirror Lockup) in 1.3x crop mode (23.31MP)
Native ISO range: 64-51,200 
Expanded ISO range: 32-102,400
71pt AF (all cross-type) 
21pt available with f/8 max aperture
Electronic global shutter
2560x1440 @24/25/30/50/60p
3840x2160 @24/25/30p (50i/60i)
7560x3240 @24p (external recorder)

Of course these are just one man's crazy ideas put to virtual paper, but where would mankind be without imagination? An official development or potential unveiling is rumored to be coming in the first week of February so I look forward to doing a followup blog post soon...

What is Distortion and how is it different to Projection, Keystone & Perspective?

People seem to use the term distortion to loosely describe that a lens does not create a representation of what they see in the way that they'd expect. In a colloquial sense this is acceptable, but from an image quality perspective distortion refers to something more specific. 

There are a number of factors which can account for a subject not appearing the way one expects in a captured image. I have created a reference list of terms and explanations for each below. It is important to have a common understanding of these terms in order to have any sort of meaningful discussion.

Projection: How the 3D space in the scene is mapped into a 2D image

The lens gathers light and focuses it on the sensor. The geometry implemented in the design can vary. An ideal rectilinear lens design will project straight lines which are in the scene as straight lines on the sensor. An ideal stereographic lens design will project spheres which are in the scene as circles on the sensor.

Above: Differences in projection used in a rectilinear lens (left) and fish-eye lens (right)

Above: Differences in projection used in a rectilinear lens (left) and fish-eye lens (right)

Keystone: Things which are in projected planes that are closer to the lens look bigger

This  is a very simple concept. If you take a wide angle image of a tall building by standing at the bottom and tilting up, then the bottom of the building is much closer to the lens than the top of the building is. Things which are closer to the lens look bigger than things which are further away. So the top of the building will look tapered.

Above: Heavy keystone is present in the image on the left because the camera is tilted upwards. The image on the right has keystone correction by keeping the camera level and using shift optics (the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L II lens) to frame the monument as required.

Above: Heavy keystone is present in the image on the left because the camera is tilted upwards. The image on the right has keystone correction by keeping the camera level and using shift optics (the Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L II lens) to frame the monument as required.

 

Perspective: The position and orientation of the camera when capturing an image

Perspective is the camera's point of view; its position relative to the objects in the scene as well as which direction it's pointing. If the camera is very close to one object but very far from another then their proportions in the captured image will not represent their relative sizes in real life. If these two objects are the in the same projection plane then their relative sizes will remain in proportion. A camera's perspective can introduce keystone into an image.

 

Distortion: Differences in magnification of objects which are in the same plane of projection

Now onto distortion; the cuss-word which afflicts so many wide angle lenses. Distortion is a failure to deliver on the intended projection used in the lens design. If a lens is a rectilinear design but fails to project straight lines in the scene as straight lines on the sensor, then there is distortion. 

For the sake of discussion I will only refer to the case of a rectilinear lens design aimed perpendicular to a flat surface. There are three categories of distortion, namely: barrel, pincushion and mustache. With Barrel distortion object towards the center of frame are magnified more than than objects towards the corners. With pincushion distortion objects towards the centre of frame are magnified less than objects towards the corners. Lenses with mustache distortion display complex elements of both barrel and pincushion distortion as you move from center of frame towards the corners.

A prime example of a lens which displays mustache distortion is the Samyang 14mm f/2.8. Below is an example from the the cine version of the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 (Samyang 14mm T3.1), which also sells under other brand names in other regions (e.g. Bower, Rokinon). 

Above: Uncorrected mustache distortion from the Samyang 14mm T3.1 ED AS IF UMC

Above: Uncorrected mustache distortion from the Samyang 14mm T3.1 ED AS IF UMC

So in summary, there are some clearly distinctions to be made between the four terms described in this article. Projection is how the lens should render real world objects on the sensor, Perspective is where the camera is positioned, Keystone is a visual effect where things which are closer look bigger, and lastly, distortion is an optical flaw in the lens design.

So next time someone says that a medium telephoto lens "compresses the perspective" please educate them. If you don't have the time or patience then just direct them to this article.

Does a Sensor make the camera?

I came across a forum thread last week asking the above question, "Does a sensor make the camera?" My first thought was a snarky reply like "No the sensor does not make the camera, robots on a production line do.", but decided not to indulge my dark passenger.

So rather, to entertain the question...

The sensor really is a crucial component in the digital photographic process. One could compare the sensor in a digital camera to the tyres on a car. Without tyres one would really struggle to drive around at all.

Better sensors can give you better imaging results just as better tyres could give you better traction on the road, however while it is a crucial component, it is not the only crucial component.

<Enter my shadow self> Photography-forum-trolls often forget that photography is about capturing light. If you put the best tyres on the most powerful car and put it on soft sand then it aint goin' anywhere.

The sensor is only one component required for "getting-the-shot" and when one looks at the greater scheme of things it is probably one of the less significant components. Without good lighting and a decent lens, the sensor doesn't really stand a chance.

Here are some other aspects of the camera's design which can make a difference between getting-the-shot and not-getting-the-shot:

  • The Autofocus System - Nails focus where you want it quickly

  • The buffer size - Number of shots before your camera calls "Timeout!"

  • Ergonomics - Sizing and placement of controls reduces user-fatigue and increases user-efficiency

  • Customization - The ability to change controls to a layout you prefer

  • Durability - Operates reliably over years of heavy usage

etc....

So my answer to the original question is no, but not a snarky no, a well worded well explained no. The sensor does not make the camera and more importantly the sensor doesn't make the shot!